| | “Bobby Fischer was the greatest genius to have descended from the chessic sky.”— mikhail tal
On the no-comeback trail: Fischer-Spassky II, when Fischer began his quest in earnest to be a man without a country. Photo by Yvette Nagel Seirawan, courtesy of Hanon Russell.
From the moment this lanky boy with a crew cut, sneakers and blue jeans exploded upon the world as a prodigy, he brought more excitement and vitality to the scene than any other player since the legendary Paul Morphy.
I met Bobby when he was 13 in 1956. After I won the Canadian Open in Montreal he asked me to drive him back to Brooklyn. I wish I could claim some kind of premonition, but I had no inkling that my passenger would become so famous.
Bobby scarcely said a word to my wife during the 400-mile trip. All he wanted to do was talk about chess, chess, chess, and more chess. While my eyes were glued to the road he plied me with questions as we discussed complicated variations without sight of the board. He was mostly interested in the Sicilian Defense, which became his workhorse against 1. e4. His dedication and relentless quest for excellence were apparent even then. As I dropped him off at a subway stop which he took to Brooklyn, he said, “I think my subconscious mind is working on chess all the time—even when I’m not playing or studying.”
A few months before his 15th birthday in 1958, Bobby became a force to reckon with when he captured the first of his eight U.S. Championships. He made history in 1964 by sweeping it 11-0! During this tournament Dr. Frank Brady, who later penned a major biography of Bobby (Profile of a Prodigy) interviewed me for Chessworld, a great magazine that folded after just three issues in 1964, the same year it was launched (see interview at the end of this article).
1961 Match with ReshevskyBrady’s question (see interview at the end of this article) reminded me of what Sammy Reshevsky said about fame: “It’s OK—if money goes along with it!” Sammy sold insurance to support his family and most of our top players also held day jobs. In those days chess enjoyed such a dismal status in America that I was almost ashamed to mention chess when people asked what I did for a living.
Sammy, then 50, was the touchstone against which my generation measured our progress. He was Bobby’s chief rival and there was no love lost between them during their stormy match in 1961. They stopped talking. They wouldn’t ride to the games in the same car. Both were determined to win and neither gave an inch. They fought over every detail. If Sammy wanted the air conditioning turned on, Bobby thought it was too cold.
Their duel was to consist of 16 games, the first four in New York, the next eight in Los Angeles, and the final four in New York again. After 11 games it was tied at 5½ points apiece. The 12th game was set for Saturday, but as an Orthodox Jew Reshevsky could not begin until after sundown and might last into the wee hours. So it was rescheduled for 1:30 Sunday afternoon. However, the sponsor Jacqueline Piatigorsky planned to attend a concert by her husband, the distinguished cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and she didn’t want to miss the game. So the starting time was advanced to 11 a.m. Bobby told the referee in no uncertain terms that he could not and would not play at such an early hour. He failed to appear and Reshevsky was declared victor of the match. Bobby sued but the case was dropped in a few years.
The press depicted him as a prima donna but I thought he got a raw deal and defended him staunchly. “As a general principle I see no reason why the schedule of a match between two players cannot be arranged to suit the convenience of BOTH. If the announced timetable was changed to suit Reshevsky, then it was unfair to force Fischer to play at 11 next morning. Bobby told me he was ready, willing and able to make it at one instead. I would prefer to see the forfeit declared invalid and the match resumed,” I wrote in Chess Life.
I always battled bureaucrats to fight for the players. Maybe that’s why Bobby trusted me. He didn’t consider me a jealous rival and knew I had no great ambitions in chess.
The Piatigorskys were Jewish and Bobby had always ranted against the Jews. This incident fueled his anti-Semitism. One day his mother, who was Jewish, tired of his tirades. “What makes you think you’re so pure?” she snapped. As fate would have it, Bobby later learned that his real father also was Jewish.
We once watched a documentary about Nazi Germany and upon leaving the theater Bobby said that he admired Hitler. I asked why. “Because he imposed his will on the world,” he replied. Unlike his hero, Bobby sublimated his aggression into chess. A penniless, uncultured high school dropout from Brooklyn suddenly got a taste of power and it went to his head.
Reshevsky got special treatment because of his religion. I suspect it’s one of the reasons Bobby joined the Worldwide Church of God in 1962 to get his own Sabbath which didn’t permit him to play chess until after sundown on Saturday either.
The Reshevsky flap didn’t stop Bobby from making tremendous progress in the 1960s. In 1962 he visited me in Las Vegas when I was working on the manuscript of Modern Chess Openings (10) a reference book known as “the chessplayer’s Bible.” I still have a picture of us standing in front of casinos on Fremont Street. He came again in 1964 and I introduced him to the pianist Leonid Hambro, a chess enthusiast, who was touring with Victor Borge. By then Bobby was becoming a celebrity in his own right and Hambro took us backstage to meet the legendary comedian.
I was making money playing blackjack in those days and taught Bobby basic strategy, but he never gambled for high stakes. Many years later I watched FIDE president Florencio Campomanes play a few hands. He was betting $75 a hand and asked me what to do with a 16 against the dealer’s 10 up card. I told him to hit, but he was afraid of busting. It turned out the next card was a four and he would have won with 20 instead of losing with 16. My wife later said, “He’s a man who won’t hit 16—that tells you a lot.”
In 1963 Bobby rejected an invitation to compete in the First Piatigorsky Cup. By 1966, however, there were no longer any hard feelings and he was runner-up to Boris Spassky in a double round robin featuring ten stars at the Second Piatigorsky Cup.
Bobby embarked on a cross-country exhibition tour in 1964 because he needed money. My father had an office in New York and arranged all the details. He became Bobby’s unofficial manager but never took a penny for his services.
Meanwhile Bobby contributed articles to my magazine, The American Chess Quarterly, including his famous “Bust to the King’s Gambit” in the first issue (1961). I also helped him write his regular article for Boys’ Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America.
In 1967 we collaborated on his My 60 Memorable Games, a magnum opus that almost never saw the light. One day Bobby scratched out all of his notes and returned the proofs to Simon & Schuster. This left only my introductions to his games which was obviously unacceptable. So he cancelled the contract by paying back the advance. I didn’t find out the reason right away.
Time passed. Bobby got a notice from the publisher asking whether he wanted to pay storage or destroy the plates. He figured he could save money by having it shipped to his walk-up flat in Brooklyn. He asked my advice and I warned him the lead plates weighed a ton and might crash through the floor and kill tenants below. “Oh well, the world’s coming to an end anyway,” he sighed. “Maybe I’ll let ‘em publish it.”
At that moment I realized he had suppressed the manuscript because he feared giving away too many secrets, but by now his opening innovations were common knowledge. We added 10 more games to make the book timelier. That’s how 50 Memorable Games became 60 Memorable Games when it was published at long last in 1969.
That year he was my house guest in Reno. I was working on the manuscript of Modern Chess Brilliancies and asked him to check it for errors. He wanted $100 and I paid it gladly. He went through the games blindfolded and did a wonderful job.
My two dogs both disliked him. He locked one of them with him in his room and it kept crying to get out. We had a pool in the backyard and he threw his wet bathing suit over a dictionary when he got inside the house. My wife was irked and asked me to find him a room elsewhere. Fortunately, he decided on his own to move into a downtown motel for a few weeks to be nearer the action in a 24-hour town.
Bobby was really fearful that something might happen to him. Once we all bundled into a car to show him Virginia City, a tourist attraction of the Old West. He heard a strange sound while I was driving and asked whether it was safe to continue. “We’re all willing to risk it, but we realize that your life is more valuable than all of ours put together,” I quipped. Without missing a beat, he replied, “That’s right! That’s right!”
It reminded me of when I accompanied him and a reporter from Sports Illustrated to an exhibition he gave at Riker’s Island in 1960 described in “Chess is Breaking Out in Prisons” for my first collection of syndicated newspaper columns, “Evans on Chess.” Once inside the jail, he asked, “Suppose you didn’t stop when the guards told you to. Would they shoot?” I told him not to try it. “No, seriously. Suppose you just kept on going and didn’t stop. Would they shoot you? I mean, would they really kill you?” We were all amused, but not quite sure what would happen. At last the warden said gently, “They would not kill you.”
I was there with Bobby during the good and big years. And what years they were!
Bobby’s Self MateIt wasn’t until his world championship match with Boris Spassky in 1972 at the height of the Cold War that chess made a big breakthrough in America. While we were training at Grossinger’s Resort in 1971, he told me with great pride that he earned $30,000 the previous year, a pittance compared to star athletes. Yet by now offers were starting to pour in. His celebrity was assured when Mike Wallace interviewed him for 60 Minutes, the nation’s most popular TV news program.
Bobby finally wrested the title at age 29, but his refusal to defend it against Anatoly Karpov in 1975 was utterly disastrous. Most fans expected him to crush the darling of the Kremlin and they wondered if he was crazy for spurning millions to play him in the Philippines. Everyone was disappointed. His colleagues were bitter because he did nothing to promote chess during his self-imposed exile in the California sun.
A mathematician claimed that Bobby’s demands against Karpov—10 wins but he keeps the title on a 9-9 tie—gave his challenger a better break than a 24-game tilt where the champion had draw odds. A French playwright depicted our hero as “a persecuted poet who defends human dignity.” A psychiatrist pontificated: “A paramount theme is his refusal to compromise his principles.” Diehards blamed it all on a commie plot. Benko claimed, “Bobby was afraid that if he defeated Karpov the Russians would kill him.”
This claptrap only encouraged Bobby to dig his own grave. I tried to persuade him to set a shining example by not seeking any advantage, yet reasoning with him was absolutely futile.
“You didn’t think the champ should have any edge when you were the challenger,” I argued.
“That’s besides the point! The Russkies always made the rules and got away with it. Let’s give ‘em a dose of their own medicine,” he replied.
Bobby promised not to seek any edge in future matches if he got his way just this once. I don’t think he ever quite forgave me for trying to get him to do the right thing.
Why he didn’t play again for 20 years until his rematch with Spassky in 1992 is a mystery. He blamed it all on a Jewish conspiracy. In his later years he even claimed in a radio rant that Jews were telling me what to write about him. I told friends that paranoia is the state with the prettiest name.
In Bobby Fischer Goes to War (2004), Edmonds and Eidenow note: “[In 1972] Fischer stated that he would not shrink from defending his title; on the contrary, he would regularly take on challengers. Few expected him to be knocked off his throne for a decade or more. One exception was his former second, Larry Evans, who explained to The New York Times, ‘I probably have more influence on him than anybody else, and that’s exactly zero. I just had the feeling he would never play competitive chess again.’”
In 1973 or ‘74 Bobby asked me to compose a challenge on his behalf, offering a match against anyone in the world who was willing to put up a million dollar purse in gold. But he never released this document. In 1975 Marcos offered $5 million to host the title match with Karpov in Manila, but Bobby wouldn’t budge until FIDE agreed to every last one of his demands. Karpov was probably eager to play but was pressured by the Kremlin to make no concessions.
Some fans called Bobby’s refusal to defend his title cowardice, but I think that’s too simplistic. He sacrificed his youth for chess and now was discovering girls and all the things he had missed along the way. Whatever the reason— real or imagined—abdication was a tragedy for him as well as a tragedy for chess. Alas, his selfmate returned the title to the Soviets without a fight.
The 11-0 Sweep!Bobby’s 11-0 sweep of the 1963/4 U.S. Championship made a greater impact around the world than in America where the general public was indifferent to chess. Baseball, football and basketball dominated the sports pages. Chess, when it received any notice at all, was lodged in the back between obituaries and comics.
At the time Bobby said bitterly, “Around the world I’m more famous than Joe Namath. In America I’m nobody.”
The tournament was held from December 15 to January 3, 1964 during a cold New York winter in the ballroom of the Henry Hudson Hotel where the Manhattan Chess Club (now defunct) was also located. There was no TV coverage and spectators sitting on folding wooden chairs followed the action on six large wallboards hung above the players onstage.
Attendance was sparse in the early rounds. Some celebrities who watched included my old friends Marcel Duchamp and Stanley Kubrick who invited me to a preview of his new film Dr. Strangelove. Other visitors were Edward Lasker, a chessmaster who invented the breast pump, and Harold Phillips, then 90, a lawyer for the Rosenbergs who were executed as spies in 1953.
In round one, Bobby disposed of Edmar Mednis in an adjourned session. When he beat me with a King’s Gambit in round two Chess Life later reported, “It was the first game Fischer had ever won from Evans and there was a clear indication that this tournament would produce something extraordinary.” The tension increased when he wiped out Robert Byrne in round three, then Arthur Bisguier and Reshevsky who dropped a piece in time pressure. The list of victims kept growing as Steinmeyer, Weinstein, Addison and Donald Byrne bit the dust. Bobby won his last game of 1963 on December 30 after Pal Benko, who had defected from Hungary six years earlier, demonstrated some suicidal tendencies in his management of the defense (Game #46 in My 60 Memorable Games).
Word got out that history was in the making and the hall was packed for the last round. Bobby’s opponent was Anthony Saidy, a medical doctor on duty with the Peace Corps in Puerto Rico who was given leave in order to participate. He was in the running for second place after beating Donald Byrne, Weinstein, Bisguier, Mednis and Addison. There were no palookas in this field and we all tried hard to stop Bobby from achieving a perfect score—even going so far as to aid Saidy analyze his unfinished game.
Saidy thought for a long time before sealing his move. Despite his bad bishop against a good knight, the consensus was that he would almost certainly draw the endgame. As spectators left, most of them thought they had seen Fischer’s bid for a record sweep halted in the final round. First prize was only $2,000 but on the next day he beat Saidy and news of this miracle was flashed to the world.
The miracle completed
IM Anthony Saidy
GM Bobby Fischer
White to move
(Saidy lost after: 44. Be1 Nxg4 45. Bd2 Kf5 46. Be1 Nf6 47. Bh4 Nh5 48. Be1 Kg4 49. Ke2 Ng3+ 50. Kd3 Nf5 51. Bf2 Nh4 52. a5 Nxg2 53. Kc3 Kf3 54. Bg1 Ke2 55. Bh2 f3 56. Bg3 Ne3, White resigned.)
Recently I asked Saidy about his adjourned game. He said: “I sealed move 44 after thinking for 45 minutes and clearly saw the way to draw: 44. Ke2! Nxg4 45. Bg1 Kf5 46. Kf3 Nf6 47. Bh2 Nh5 48. a5! Kg5 49. g4 fxg3 e.p. 50. Bxg3 but I didn’t trust my analysis and lost after inaccuracies by both sides in the ensuing play. Kasparov’s analysis was deeper and differs from mine yet also ends in a draw.”
Bobby was awarded the brilliancy prize against Robert Byrne. K.F. Kirby, editor of the South African Chess Quarterly, summed up the astonishment and admiration of the chess world when he wrote: “This game was quite fabulous, and I cannot call to mind anything to parallel it. After Byrne’s 11th move I should adjudicate his position as slightly superior, and at worst completely safe. To turn this into a mating position in 11 more moves is more witchcraft than chess!” And one can add nothing to Byrne’s own words: “The culminating combination is of such depth that, even at the very moment at which I resigned, both grandmasters who were commenting on the play for spectators in a separate room believed that I had a won game!” (Game#48 in My 60 Memorable Games.)
As runner-up I trailed by far with a score that might suffice for first prize. Final standings: 1. Fischer 11; 2. Evans 7½; 3. Benko 7; 4-5. Reshevsky, Saidy 6½; 6. R. Byrne 5½; 7. Weinstein 5; 8. Bisguier 4½; 9-10. Mednis 3½; Addison 3½; 11. Steinmeyer 3; 12. D. Byrne 2½.
Victory seemed so effortless Hans Kmoch quipped that Fischer won the exhibition but Evans won the tournament. His competitors felt a trifle humiliated but I, for one, heeded Goethe’s admonition that our only defense against a genius is to admire him.
“Our guy deserves a shot at the title. He has no superior in the world today,” exclaimed a jubilant fan who reflected the prevailing sentiment. But Danish grandmaster Bent Larsen was singularly unimpressed. “He was playing against children in the U.S.A. All I know is that when they sit down to play Fischer they play as though beaten before the game starts. The Russians say that Fischer is too limited and lacking in self-criticism and that he is really not a serious problem as far as the world championship is concerned. Keres told me he would beat Fischer 8-2 in a match.”
They say revenge is a dish best tasted cold. The irony is that on his road to the world championship in 1971 Bobby also wiped out Bent 6-0.
The Lost Leader
“Blot out his name then/ Record one lost soul more/ One task more declined/ One more footpath untrod.”
Years earlier it was clear that things were starting to go awry. In 1968 while our Olympiad team was in Lugano, Switzerland, Bobby walked out when the organizers wouldn’t accommodate his demands for special treatment. After that he didn’t play for almost two years until 1970 when USCF executive director Ed Edmondson persuaded him to compete in the USSR vs. Rest of the World Match in Belgrade. He sent me along to help Bobby. When Larsen insisted on playing first board against world champion Spassky, everyone feared Bobby would again walk out. But he realized he was rusty and agreed to take second board, then regained his zest for chess after trouncing Tigran Petrosian 3-1 (+2 =2).
He asked me to be his second at the Mallorca Interzonal in 1970 as well as his match with Petrosian at Buenos Aires in 1971. While there I was on good terms with grandmaster Yuri Averbakh, Russia’s long-time delegate to FIDE, who described the impact of Bobby’s victory in the USSR: “At home they don’t understand. They think it means there is something wrong with our culture.”
Retired colonel Edmondson went with us. I watched this proud man crawl and cater to Bobby’s every whim because he realized that victory would be a boon for American chess.
I only saw Bobby a few more times after he won the title in 1972 because he started to distance himself from his old friends and dwell in his own fantasy world. Near the end of September, Warner Bros. wanted to make a record called “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” and hired me to write a script. Apparently Bobby didn’t like the person they had assigned for the task. A limousine picked me up at the Los Angeles airport and whisked me into the office of president Joe Smith, who wanted to rush it out for the Christmas season. Smith told me that Kubrick had phoned him from England about how to insert diagrams on the album cover.
I asked whether Bobby had signed a contract. Smith said no, but that it was a done deal and signing was a mere formality. “No offense,” I said. “But if you don’t mind I like to be paid in advance when working with Bobby.” They paid and I signed a contract to receive a percentage of the gross profits. The art department at Warner Bros. was instructed to give this project the highest priority.
Bobby’s church was very anxious for him to make the recording because he was tithing them a substantial part of his income ($61,200 of his prize money from beating Spassky in 1972). So I visited an apartment they provided for him in Pasadena and asked Bobby to pretend I was a beginner and give me a lesson as I tape-recorded the session. Warner used my script and prepared phonetic versions for him to read in various other languages. For some reason the deal fell through. I heard he didn’t like the sound of his own voice, but who knows? It wasn’t surprising because Bobby had already turned down millions of dollars in other offers.
In 1974, Playboy asked me to do a feature interview with Bobby. I told them he wouldn’t do it unless he got paid. They offered to send the two of us to a resort of our choice and indicated they were willing to donate money to his favorite charity. I contacted Bobby who demanded $50,000 for his favorite charity—himself. Alas, the interview fell through.
In 1976 Bobby rejected another fabulous offer in the millions to play Brazilian prodigy Henrique Mecking in Manila. “I’m too busy with my lawsuits to concentrate on chess,” he explained.
After that we kept in touch by phone and mail until he went off the deep end in 1982 by writing a pamphlet about being tortured in the Pasadena jailhouse which he signed as “Robert D. James (professionally known as Robert J. Fischer or Bobby Fischer, The World Chess Champion”). OK, there may be something to his claims about being ill-treated by the police, yet his life was falling apart. After 15 years he broke with his church in 1977 and wrote a scathing essay blasting his own stupidity: “Once I quit tithing, my mind started to clear up. I’m not interested in getting my money back. I just want to make sure that nobody gets ripped off mentally.” He lived in flophouses, grew an unkempt beard, handed out anti-Semitic leaflets on the street and became a recluse. Diehard Fischer-watchers call this period his “wilderness years.”
One reporter said, “There was this growing dilemma in looking for Fischer. The more you knew about him, the less you actually wanted to find him.” If a friend talked about him to a reporter or wrote about him, Bobby would have nothing more to do with that person. It reminded me of when someone I knew joined Scientology and sent me and his other friends who wouldn’t join this cult a “disconnect” letter.
Bobby’s most important strength as a competitor was his fierce killer instinct. “Each day I go in like an unknown to prove myself,” he said. And he did. He was uncompromising; he hated draws and fought most of his games to the bitter end. His greatest weakness probably was using the same openings over and over.
I’m often asked whether Fischer or Kasparov was the better player. That’s a tough one, but I must pick Kasparov because he has a greater body of work over a longer span of time. Bobby, however, did it on his own without coaches or subsidies. “If I win a tournament, I win it by myself. I do the playing. Nobody helps me,” he proclaimed.
Kasparov was rated number one for nearly 20 years, an incredible feat in any sport. Most champions have a period when they are virtually invincible and Fischer’s reign was brief, almost meteoric. He burned out when he reached his peak, whereas Kasparov kept improving. I think all we can say with certainty is that the gap between Fischer and his rivals in 1972 was greater than the gap that exists now between the world champion and his rivals.
Chess is different today. Now players have vast databases at their fingertips and openings have been analyzed so extensively that master games often begin in earnest after a dozen moves instead of one. Over 30 years ago Bobby saw the writing on the wall. “Someday computers will make us all obsolete,” he told me.
Bobby recently died of kidney failure in Iceland after proclaiming he was finished with “the old chess.” Instead he touted Fischer random where games can start from 960 different positions chosen at random by computers. Ironically, he wanted to use computers to rescue chess from computers—but how can you destroy chess to save it?
I think Noam Chomsky once said that he could see no purpose in a computerized chess program other than maybe taking the fun out of playing chess. The question arises, “Why would anyone today devote a lifetime to mastering a game from which it’s almost impossible to earn a living when a hand-held device can find the best move in a split second?”
As a human being Bobby left much to be desired. His best quality was a sense of humor. I hope he still had one. His worst quality was his sadism. When Dick Cavett on TV asked him about his greatest pleasure in chess, Bobby was brutally frank: “Crushing the other guy’s ego.” As a youngster he blurted, “I like to see ‘em squirm.”
Brad Darrach, a staff writer for Life magazine, captured his essence in Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World. The book depicts him as a sullen, sulking brute without human warmth or contact—a loner without real friends who never was a friend to anyone. He unsuccessfully sued the author, the publisher, and even the USCF for selling the book.
In one of his radio rants, Bobby boasted: “I object to being called a chess genius, because I consider myself to be an all around genius who just happens to play chess, which is rather different. A piece of garbage like Kasparov might be called a chess genius, but he is like an idiot savant. Outside of chess he knows nothing. He and Karpov are criminals who have been ruining chess with immoral, unethical, pre-arranged games. They are the lowest dogs around.”
That nonsense speaks for itself. Part of the problem is that Bobby surrounded himself with lackeys and bootlickers who stroked his ego by egging him on in all those damaging radio interviews that elicited the wrath of the U.S. government.
I agree with what Kasparov wrote several years ago in The Wall Street Journal: “Fischer demolished the Soviet chess machine but could build nothing in its place. He was an ideal challenger—but a disastrous champion.”
Genius is a starry attribute. Nevertheless, posterity often finds a genius easier to bear than his harried contemporaries.
(This article originally appeared in the Dutch magazine Matten and the British magazine Chess in 2007.) We are grateful to Lawrence Totaro, author of Fisching for Forgeries, for his help with the photo on page 15.© Larry Evans. All rights reserved.
Why I Play ChessDr. Frank Brady interviews Evans for Chessworld
Do you expect to win this tournament?
No. I’ll be happy to finish in the top three. My feeling is that everybody is doing badly here with the exception of Fischer.
Why do you play chess?
For the spirit of competition. I don’t like to have to score the point in order to win the money. I try to make each game a work of art.
Do you still get actual pleasure from playing chess?
Anybody who does anything well finds pleasure in it.
How would you rate Fischer in historical terms?
It’s been my opinion for a few years now that he’s the best player in the world. I’d say he’s in the same league as Capablanca or Morphy. Of course it’s hard to make a comparison since they didn’t have the competition that he has now.
Why do you say Fischer is at the top of his form right now?
Well, he’s been doing nothing but studying chess—I’d estimate five or six hours a day. He’s beautifully prepared for every opening and moves quickly. In each game he’s about an hour ahead of his opponent on the clock.
How would you describe his style of play?
He follows the truth on the board. If it calls for a wild move and he can’t see it clearly, he’ll make that move. Whatever is called for in a given position, Fischer will do.
What about your style?
Positional. But I’m also alert to tactics and never give up on inferior positions. I subscribe to a theory of the second resource. That is, no matter how bad your position, if it’s not totally lost, you will reach a point during the game where you will be presented with an opportunity to win or draw if you take advantage of it.
Do you want to become famous?
I guess everyone does. Chess is a back door to fame.